website on the cheap
December 11, 2012 1:44 PM   Subscribe

I work at a local entertainment company that desperately needs a new website. The owner wants to pay next to nothing for a new site in this vein. Is there any possibility a talented student might be willing to design a site like this for a very limited rate and what's the bare minimum we could expect to charge? Also, how could I find such a designer?
posted by timsneezed to Technology (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You could probably do it yourself, but I'd make the owner do part of the work: specifically, have them go here and pick out a design they like. For a site that simple, picking the theme is probably the hardest part.
posted by jbickers at 1:51 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you want to pay next to nothing, use Wordpress or some similar CMS and find a free template you like.

The problem with exploiting a student for this sort of thing is that A) you're exploiting a student, and B) you'll likely get what you pay for (in terms of maintainability, code quality, and design.)
posted by ook at 1:53 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

(on preview, I see that I am seconding a recommendation for Wordpress, but with some added filler...)

I cannot answer your question on fair rates, but hopefully this can help:

A site like the one you linked to can be created without much time or fuss using Wordpress (even if you don't want to incorporate blog-like features). It would be relatively easy for your company to update, maintain, and even make various changes to the site design without needing to understand the underlying code. I would strongly urge you to look for someone to set up a Wordpress site with you (including setting up hosting services (if needed) and selecting a url) as well as teach you how to use it. If you know someone who is a blogger, it is possible that they can do this for you.

Wordpress offers a very active community, good security (apply every update asap), and a lot of themes and plugins to choose from.

Since this is a business site, I strongly recommend hosting your own Wordpress installation rather than using

Contact instructors for web design at your local community college... they likely know several students who can get you started. You are looking to hire someone to get you started... be prepared to learn as you go. After a year or so you will be able to do quite a bit with the site (and to know what you can do with your skillset).
posted by 1367 at 1:58 PM on December 11, 2012

You could use WordPress (CMS) and get a free or paid template (like from Themeforest as jbickers mentioned) or you could use a website building site like SquareSpace or Virb.
posted by Dansaman at 2:00 PM on December 11, 2012

I would strongly recommend Wordpress, but unless there is a compelling need they can't meet, I actually *would* recommend, where they host it for you.

It's a bit limited, but you can pay a tiny bit more for custom css if you want to modify an out-of-the-box theme.

I recommend against hosting it on your own site for the same reason I recommend against using a student: future maintenance. Wordpress installs get hacked *constantly,* especially if you don't keep the versions up to date. Who's going to do that? By the same token, you can probably find a student to do a halfway decent job, but what happens when you need to revise the content and he's moved on with his life?

I'm a professional web developer and *I* host my personal site on Because site maintenance is a huge pain in the ass even if you do it for a living, let alone if you're not that experienced or trying to track down a student who ran off to Cabo.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:13 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do you work in casting? Are you based out of Los Angeles? If so, mefimail me, I may be able to help.
posted by phaedon at 2:31 PM on December 11, 2012

I do this sort of thing all the time. Working from a theme, 15 years of experience dictates that no site takes less than 2 billable days. I'm in the EU so my minimum charge would be €700 or about $900. Hopefully that's a useful yardstick for you.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:33 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

Nthing the advice to go with an off-the-shelf solution rather than a custom site. Your inexpensive student is not going to have low rates for long if they are indeed talented, and inheriting someone else's custom site to maintain or expand can easily eat up any of the savings you get if there's anything unusual about how it's been developed.

You should carefully consider how you're going to gauge the skill level of your candidates.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 2:56 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

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